The news on oil is still mostly bearish—BP announced a $3 billion cut in capital expenditures for 2015 on Tuesday—but analysts and strategists are again trying to call a bottom.
Raymond James’ Jeff Saut told CNBC Monday that oil has indeed found a bottom.
This morning, following a disappointing earnings report from Anadarko Petroleum, Stifel upgraded the stock to a “buy” from “hold,” saying it expects oil prices to improve in the second half of the year.
“We anticipate a rebound in oil prices as U.S. supply growth slows, demand improves, and the dollar potentially tops and begins to weaken over the next 12 to 18 months,” Stifel analysts wrote.
Stifel is also raising ratings to a “buy” on several other energy names, including Concho Resources and EOG Resources. Importantly, the firm seems to be fairly clear-eyed on a bounce in oil: its 2016 projections is for an average price of $65 a barrel.
Speaking of bottoming, there are some early signs copper may be trying to do the same thing. Copper is down more than 20 percent in the last six months, not as bad as oil’s 50-plus-percent decline, but still notable. However, it is up better than 2 percent today and has stabilized in the last few days around $2.50 a pound.
While there have been some disappointing economic reports recently, car and truck sales remain a bright spot for the U.S. economy.
You can see this in the earnings report this morning from AutoNation, the largest new car dealer in the United States, which reported earnings of $1.02, well above expectations of 91 cents. Sales were up right across the board.
AutoNation comp sales (source: Stifel)
- New vehicles: up 9.1 percent
- Used vehicles: up 7.1 percent
- Parts and service: up 10.1 percent
AutoNation also reported January retail new vehicle sales of 23,355. That’s a 20 percent above the same period last year, though remember January last year was beset by bad weather. Nissan and Chrysler reported their best January ever. General Motors‘ sales up 18 percent in January were strong as well.
More important was CEO Mike Jackson’s forecast that U.S. car and light truck sales will climb to more than 17 million units this year.
AutoNation’s sales have been on a steady climb up for years. In fact, annual sales have doubled since 2009.
AutoNation annual sales (in billions)
- 2009: $10.7
- 2010: $12.4
- 2011: $13.8
- 2012: $15.7
- 2013: $17.5
- 2014: $19.1